A picture of a man reading in front of a scale

Madness and Brutes

The great German writer, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 – 1832), summarized the mantra of our reading community when he said, “We must plunge into experience and then reflect on the meaning of it. All reflection and no plunging drives us mad; all plunging and no reflection, and we are brutes” (Becker 199).

The mantra of The Read Well Podcast is to read slowly, take notes, and apply the ideas. It’s not enough to read thousands of books. If all you do is read and reflect, you’ll go mad. Books are not written to be read, they are written to be applied.

On the other hand, if you live your life without reading and reflection, you become a brute. If you never stop to learn from great books, then you’re subject to current opinion, trends, and the pressures of your immediate social and cultural environment. You’re restrained because you can only see and learn from what surrounds you.

To read a book from another’s perspective will expose you to ideas, worldviews, and experiences that will create more empathy, intelligence, and critical thinking in your life. A well-read person is a well-rounded person.

It’s important that we find a balance as readers. This is why I always harp on speed reading and the obsession to “get through” hundreds of books a year. It’s far better to read a few and then apply what you’ve learned in your life.

Until tomorrow, read slowly – take notes – apply the ideas.



Works Cited:

Becker, Ernest. The Denial of Death. 1. paperback ed, Free Press Paperbacks, 1997.

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